Tuna Tar-Tart

I suck at everything. Probably more than you do. I enjoy experimenting with cheese and playing with glue sticks. You might know me from that other joint, LiveJournal.

Oct 162021
 

I decided to sign up for this year’s Global Day of Service at work because it’s been several years since I last participated, one of the options was helping to set up for the Boy Scouts annual Halloween event, and I need to get the FUCK out of this house. Working from home definitely has its perks but the burnout is real. I wanted to see familiar faces and just, you know,  not be strapped in front of my computer all day.

I convinced my work pal Megan to also sign up for this particular event. “It’ll be fun!” I said. The activities listed decorating and helping out with the pumpkin patch. Sounds like good old-fashioned October fun to me, and for a good cause to boot!

Then there was a whole lot of confusion just during the sign-up period: incorrect dates, miscommunication regarding t-shirt pick-up, instructions on where to park etc not emailed out until the eleventh hour. I was so stressed out about this because I like having a clear and concise plan in place when something involves me going to a place I’ve never been before, and the fact that no one was responding to our emails (I think I gave Megan second-hand stress and she was also emailing the global service people for answers lol) had this whole situation INFILTRATING MY DREAMS. Yes, I fucking had low-key stress dreams about this stupid volunteer opportunity, why can’t I be a normal person even in my slumber. Seriously, it’s exhausting being this tightly wound 24:7.

But finally Thursday aka Volunteering Day came and I was prepared. Got Chooch to school, came home and ate breakfast, was at Megan’s house promptly at 8am, made it to the Boy Scout camp in Sugar Spell Scoops Town (aka the town where our favorite ice cream shop lives lol) with a good 15 minutes to spare. And it’s a good thing too because finding the camp was tricky and we kept thinking we were going the wrong way or that we passed it, and then we finally found the street and saw the main building, we proceeded to drive past it to find the gravel parking lot as the instructions told us. It said it was “on the other side of the road past the education center” and we did see a lot there but it wasn’t gravel. And someone named “RANGER MIKE” was supposed to be there to help.

There was no such man there.

So we drove around again and still could not find any semblance to a “gravel lot” so we went back to the first one and parked. Another Law Firm person rolled up and was like “IS THIS RIGHT” and we were like “SHRUG” and that in unison we all said, “IT’S NOT GRAVEL” but then a man came barreling down the road in a golf cart-type thing and we were like THIS MUST BE RANGER MIKE and it was. Law firm people are just smart like that, you know? RANGER MIKE was like “Follow me to the correct parking lot” and he took us further up the road to another parking lot that was also NOT GRAVEL!?!?

Did they just pave the lot after sending out that email?! We were all fixated on GRAVEL. You cannot throw down super descriptive words such as GRAVEL without following through. I am going to dwell on this forever, watch.

OK, on to the actual volunteering. It was just Megan and me from our department, but two other ladies from a different department on our floor were also there so that was really nice to see some familiar faces! Then there were four dudes, none of whom I knew or recognized, from various departments. I think one was an Associate, and the rest of us were all non-lawyers. There were 3 different tasks that needed done that day, and we were split up into groups. The four of us broads quickly raised our hands for pumpkin patch consideration, two guys were on painting duty, and the other two went with RANGER MIKE to do something with life jackets and then set up some sort of game for the Halloween event, I honestly don’t know because I quit listening to the options after “pumpkin patch.”

We went off with another camp person, Kim, down the road to a little area of land next to a picnic shelf and a creek. Basically, we just had to tear apart bales of hay and scatter it so that the area for the patch was completely covered. You’d think this would be fairly self-explanatory but I had to keep sneaking peeks over my shoulder at Kim to make sure I was doing it like she was, I’m so fucking Type A. Once that was done, it was time to place the pumpkins. They still had stickers on them and I was about to ask Kim if she wanted us to remove them, but I saw that she was leaving them on all of hers. I thought, OK, maybe this is like a brand deal or something, and whatever farm supplied the pumpkins asked for the stickers to be left on for marketing purposes. I don’t know the beside-the-scenes shit that goes on at pumpkin patches. OK Randy?

This went on for quite some time, and I was surprised at how mildly worked-out I felt, I wasn’t sweating or anything, but the process of plucking pumpkins from the boxes was full-body, you know? I was grabbing three or four at a time and pretending they were tiny medicine balls.

When we were nearly done, a cart full of three Camp elders scooted on up to us. They dropped one lady off, and she immediately began inspecting our work and mumbling under her breath about the stickers.

“I didn’t really think it mattered,” Kim said defensively. “It’s fine,” she said to the rest of us, now frozen with stickered pumpkins in our hands. But the Camp elder began stooping down and removing stickers.

Kim caught me peeling a sticker from a pumpkin I had just grabbed from one of the boxes.

“No, don’t!” she said. “If she wants to go around and take off all the stickers, she can be my guest. But we are not doing that.” My eyes must have widened or something because she tacked on, “She’s my mother-in-law, so I can say that.” And then we laughed heartily. So then it became this Thing with Camp elder, walking around peeling off stickers and us dumping down more stickered pumpkins. I will admit that every time Kim wasn’t looking, I peeled the stickers off the ones I was putting down because it was honestly bothering me a little bit too. I mean, look how dumb all the white spots look in those pictures! But then I kept reminding myself that the patch was just for the kids and kids could give a shit about the cosmetics and one of the ladies from my floor said, “The stickers will probably make the little kids happy, anyway.” And that’s true, probably.

After getting all the pumpkins down, we helped Kim put up a red plastic fence around part of the perimeter and Camp elder was trying to hijack this part of the process too by changing the border of the patch. Kim kept saying, “No, we don’t need a fence over there. No, the kids aren’t going to fall over, it’s not a cliff.” It was actually hilarious and the looks Kim kept giving us behind Camp elder’s back made me feel like we were all camerapeople at Dunder Mifflin.

It wasn’t even 11AM yet so one of the other ladies asked me if I knew what else we would be doing, but as far as I knew, it was just the pumpkin patch. RANGER MIKE didn’t say anything else. So we sat for a bit under the pavilion, drinking water and telling horror stories about past Global Days of Service.

“This one was actually really nice,” I said. “It was mild labor and felt very rewarding, plus it was also kind of fun.”

Everyone agreed and one of the ladies was saying that she did a landscaping one in the past and it was hard labor. “I’ll never sign up for anything like that again,” she said, and I had flashbacks of my last volunteering experience with Tree Pittsburgh and how terrible it was. 

No, seriously, I just re-read that right now and I’m having phantom callous pain.

“Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?” Camp elder asked, and we all enthusiastically said yes. Then Kim talked to us about what the Boy Scout event is like and encouraged us all to come out to that Saturday. It’s $20 a person, but for a good cause, so I was considering it.

“Are there chainsaws?” one of the other law firm ladies asked. “I hate chainsaws!”

Kim said she wasn’t sure, because the Boy Scouts plan the haunted trail themselves and she didn’t know what they were going to be doing yet.

Right when I was thinking that maybe they’d set us loose early, Kim got off the phone with who I assume was RANGER MIKE and said, “OK, we’re going to the log splitter.”

We all laughed, like, “Haha very funny, the log splitter, lol-le-lol-de-dee.”

But then she wasn’t smiling anymore. “No, seriously. You guys are going to join the other two guys who finished with Mike.” So we all looked at each other in fear and reluctantly followed her up a path, past THE ASYLUM where a life-sized Hannibal Lecter had been leering at us from a distance all morning. (One of the ladies spotted him earlier and thought he was a real person and started to get angry that someone was staring at us, lol.)

And then we got to the infamous log splitter. Two law firm guys, one from Finance and one from IT if I remember correctly, were already manning it and they did look like they were living their best lives, let me tell you. RANGER MIKE had rolled up in his stupid cart to bark off orders.

“Two people can be on the splitter while the rest of you stack the cut pieces and bring more logs to them to be cut,” he said and us FEMALES exchanged, “THE HELL WE ARE” looks with each other. I for one did not want to go anywhere near that horrifying device.

STORY TIME:

When I was 17, this was back in 1996 I believe, my dad was in the yard operating a log splitter, and then KAPCHUGGI (my favorite Korean word that means “suddenly” in case you haven’t learned that by now) he came running into the house, legit spurting blood all over the laundry room and into the kitchen. This happened to coincide with Halloween weekend, so my mom thought he was fucking with us, like “haha, great use of fake blood, impressive trajectory” but then he was like THIS IS REAL, VAL and he showed her his hand that was now missing one finger tip and we were all like OMG VOMIT. So she got him to the hospital and they were like, “Hello, did you bring the finger” and she was like, “Excuse me, the what now?” and they were like, “The finger. We need it” so she had to go back home and find his fingertip which was still inside the glove he was wearing, and they were able to reattach it.

But the part of this story that I remember the most vividly happened shortly after The Accident. My dad and I were having yet another knockdown drag-out fight because we fucking hated each other back then (we’re fine now!) and in the heat of the moment, I shrieked, “I wish it had been your head!!!!!!” and then slammed the front door behind me as I ran away.

My brother Corey must have been about 7 at the time and he was a witness to this. Not too long ago, he actually texted me “I WISH IT HAD BEEN YOUR HEAD *SLAM*” lol. Oh, the things that stick with us.

But yeah, me and a log splitter? No thank you. I texted Corey and he was like, “THIS IS A SENSITIVE TOPIC FOR THE KELLY SIBLINGS!”

So, I opted to roll the to-be-cut logs over to the MEN. You can see from this picture that there were several nice looking, clean, dry logs that were already chilling there, and just needed to be rolled over to the other side of the log splitter. This is not so bad, I thought. I mean, they were heavy so I was not pleased with that.

I sent the original picture to Corey and he was obsessed with the disgusted expression on my face and sent me this picture in return. I mean, even through the blur, you can tell that I was feeling pretty put-out at this point.

After Megan and I rolled the last log over to the guys, I looked at RANGER MIKE (who was busy texting on his phone, btw!!) and asked, “Is that it?”

“Oh no, those ones over there too,” he said, and pointed to a mound of haphazardly stacked logs on a small hillside AND THEN HE LEFT.

These logs were not nice and uniform like the other logs, but were actually huge chunks of tree, and looked like they had been loitering there for quite some time. That was apparent as soon as I flipped one over and unearthed a family of writhing worms, OMG hold please, the memory of this is making me dry heave. There were so many that they were basically KNOTTED, ugh. And the random bugs!!! Holy fuck, there were so many bugs I have never seen before, skittering all along the logs. The only nice buy I encountered was a fluffy black caterpillar which I transported to safety via a leaf because I didn’t want the poor thing to get the ax.

This was after we already removed a bunch, but you can see that the logs over to the left are basically just an extension of the ground, and that’s how the ones were that Megan and I were fucking with. Once we’d unearth them, literally, the underneath of each log was coated with cold, slimy mud and it smelled mildewy and rotten, the perfect combination to tickle ones gag relfex. Then there was some kind of disgusting mold on some of them and old-ass fungal growths that could have been poisoning us, but RANGER MIKE was not there to tell us. I kept slipping and sliding into the thick, sludgy crevices that were exposed after I’d lift a log and it was not PLEASURABLE.

The fact alone that they didn’t even give us gloves?! Are you kidding?? I had cuts on my hands!

“This is like Cross Fit,” I panted to Megan as I was squatting down to get enough leverage to push a giant log up the ramp to the log splitter. “It’s like Boy Scout Cross Fit.”

Like flipping tires but with the option of getting splinters.

I wanted to go off into the woods and scream, “FUCK!!!!!!!!” repeatedly until my throat was raw.

Did I mention that we were 100% unsupervised during this and were provided with NO safety equipment? No gloves, no goggles. Henry was actually horrified when I told him. I thought he would have laughed and made fun of me for having to do work but he was actually somewhat appalled that this was allowed to happen. I mean, there is a reason we all work in a law firm and not a forest, you know?

Look at that mother-whomping chunk of a tree! Megan and I were in beast-mode. Also, I witnessed several close calls with those guys and the log splitter.

And then Megan flipped over this guy’s house and that was pretty much her cue to throw in the towel.

With every log I flipped and heaved, I heard Camp elder’s last words in my head:

“Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?”

“Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?”

    “Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?”

                                                    “DO YINZ THINK YOU’LL COME BACK NEXT YEAR?”

                             “dO YInz THInk yOu’Ll ComE BaCK nEXt YeAr?????”

                                   "dO YInz THInk yOu'Ll ComE BaCK nEXt YeAr?????"
                                       
                                                                                                                         ,,¿¿¿¿¿ɹ∀ǝ⅄ ʇXƎu ʞƆɐq ƎɯoƆ l˥,nOʎ ʞuIH┴ zuI⅄ Op,, 
By the tenth log, it sounded like a Beatles record playing in reverse.

Finally, RANGER MIKE came back and said, “OK you guys can be done after these logs here are split” and pointed to the last two that Megan and I had heroically rolled up to the log splitter. I did a celebratory shimmy behind his back and spent my newly acquired logless time trying to work my wrist bones back into place. They were wrecked. Maybe even worse than my back. Then I started thinking about all the tiny bones that make up a person’s wrist and I getting nauseated. See also: I needed lunch in a big way. I’m a lumber jack now, after all.

The guys got to hitch a ride back to the parking lot on RANGER MIKE’s stupid Boy Scout mobile while us girls opted to walk. I don’t know about them, but I had some anger that needed processed and walking always helps with that.

“I was fine with the pumpkin thing,” one of the other 10th floor ladies said.

“Yeah and the pumpkin thing didn’t have bugs,” I said, and then we all did something that was supposed to be laughter but sounded more like the mewling of our collective broken spirits.

As we passed the pumpkin patch, someone mentioned that we probably finished too early and they put us on log duty because they didn’t have anything else. I said sadly, “Maybe we should have just gone back and taken off the stickers after all.”

This time our laughter sounded more like trying-not-to-cry-ter.

Back at the warehouse or whatever it was, we reunited with the other two guys who had the painting assignment. One of the ladies muttered, “We should have picked painting, instead” because they realllllly took their time with that job and dragged it out so they didn’t get stuck logging.  It just goes to show you that efficiency doesn’t always pay off in the end, you guys. Sometimes the slackers come out ahead!

RANGER MIKE took a group picture and then finally released us. I was so happy to sit down in my car until I got home and couldn’t get out of my car. Ugh, my aching back. I needed a Doans or something. Is Doans still a thing? Because they could have used footage of the day’s activities for their next commercial.

Well, that’s my story about being a do-gooder. I think I’ll go back on hiatus now.

Til next time: Jesus loves you, I don’t have to, fuck you.

Oct 152021
 

Hello Internet People. This is just going to be a bunch of mostly correctly-spelled words (joke’s on me, I spelled “correctly” wrong the first time lol) about our day at Six Flags Great Adventure on Saturday, October 9. I wanted to try my luck at this park one more time this season since the time we spent there on my birthday was underwhelming to say the least.

I was prepared for massive lines and crowds since Fright Fest is going on right now, but really the only thing I really wanted to do was ride Jersey Devil, the new RMC single-rail coaster. It was DOWN the day we were there over the summer and I was determined to ride at least one new-to-me RMC this year, so return we did, we did return.

And to no one’s surprise, Jersey Devil had just broken down when we rolled up to the queue, lol. But then as we were walking away to hit up a nearby coaster with an allegedly “short” wait, Henry noticed that it was running again so Chooch and I were like SEE YA SUCKER and got in the relatively short line. Actually, there was a line just to get INTO the line because they have to check you to make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets. (Henry opted to sit this one out in lieu of getting a locker so we dumped our phones on him.)

We watched this couple get turned away because they had stuff, then walk back over to the security guy, completely cutting in front of us those of us in line FOR THE LINE (so stupid) only to get turned away AGAIN because they still had their phones. I was gloating. Nice try, trying to cut only to get caught with phones. Buy, bitches. But then when we were finally in the real line, Chooch goes, “WTF how did those people get so far in front of us?” and it was same couple who had gotten turned away, but now they were about 25 people ahead of us! They had a kid saving their spot and I think they literally walked around and cut through landscaping and climbed a fence, because I did NOT see them cutting through the line while we were standing there. I was so angry. What fucking assholes.

Regardless, the line was still only about 20 minutes long because the ops on this thing are so good and they were running 4 trains I think. There are always at least 2 trains in the station being unloaded and loaded at all times, and the trains never stop so you have to hop in while they’re in motion. I’ve never been on a coaster that load that way! (Just dark rides or various Wild Mouse-types of coasters.)

Chooch got the front seat only because I let him have it, ugh. I would have actually preferred the back but I just wanted to get on this thing while it was running because  you never know!

Anyway, it kills me to admit this but I found this ride to be slightly underwhelming. Listen, listen, listen…I am still your fangirl, RMC, and I understand that there are elements that may have affected the ride’s potential – weight distribution of the train, the seat I was assigned to, the weather. Maybe it just wasn’t running at its best because it felt kind of sluggish to me. In fact, no one on our train was screaming or anything!

I’m not mad at it or anything, and I swear I am not giving up in it either. I need a few more rides on it to really form an opinion (I was underwhelmed by Twisted Timbers the first time I rode it! TWISTED TIMBERS!) and I’m kicking myself for not going back for any re-rides that day but we had other shit to get done before the Fright Fest masses plunged upon the park.

After a terrible start to the day, I can honestly say that we still managed to have a great time at Six Flags. I guess we are a pretty OK family in that sense. “Wow, was that really only 6 hours ago that Mom threw a pile of clothes onto the floor like a tantrum’ing child and then tried to bite Dad? Seems like forever ago now that we’ve ridden 3 roller coasters.”

Hahaha…ugh.

We got a good ride on Batman! I really have a big appreciation for B&M inverts these days. This one was really fun but too short IMO! The line wasn’t too terribly bad either, maybe about 25-30 minutes? Which, for this park on a Saturday, is pretty decent.

We got to ride the Dark Knight ride this time too – it HAD JUST BROKEN DOWN the last time we were there, literally right when we were walking over is when the guy came out and put down the TEMPORARILY CLOSED sign, lol. July 30th was a very bad day to visit Great Adventure.

In line for this one, there was a guy wearing a shirt that said:

“That’s what.”

-She said.

Chooch and I thought it was mildly amusing and Henry was like, “WHAT. WHAT. WHAT IS? WHAT?” because he is always a million years behind us. We were like NOTHING NEVER MIND YOU WILL NOT GET IT and now he was getting mad and was determined to know who we were talking about so I said it was the guy who looked like him from the nose down.

Because he had a beard.

And it was moderately similar to Henry’s.

So now Henry didn’t care about the shirt anymore, just the fact that I said the guys looked like him.

“I said just from here to here!” I cried defensively, motioning at his mouthal area. Henry gets so mad about other people looking like him, Jesus.

Also, this ride was fun because it was indoors and we had no idea what it was going to be! Turns out it was just a Wild Mouse-type of ride but the theming was surprisingly decent AND Henry got to sit next to a dad who got separated from his family in front of us and as soon as the ride started, he began  talking to Henry which is what we always hope will happen!

“WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU??” I cried afterward, out of breath with excitement.

“Who?” Henry responded, which is his general response to everything, causing Chooch and me to yell WHO DO YOU FUCKING THINK?? Like, try to keep up, asshole. Jesus.

Anyway, the dad just asked Henry if he knew what kind of ride it was because he had also never ridden it before.

Anyway x2, I forgot to mention that before we got on the ride, the dad’s wife said she liked my sweatshirt and I thought it was because she knew about the Fear Street movie trilogy but it was just because it has the date 1978 on it and that’s her birth year. Of course, I didn’t hear her say that so when she asked me if it was also mine, I said yes. I mean, it’s only one year off so I don’t feel bad about accidentally lying but I really need to stop trying to answer yes or no questions without actually hearing the question.

The line for Superman was like 120,0000 minutes long so I convinced Chooch to get in line for Green Lantern instead. To me, the line didn’t look all that long but WOW Dear Diary, I understand that age old adage “looks can be deceiving” First of all, we couldn’t see that there were switchbacks on the other side of the station, and also out of all the rides we rode, this one had the WORST LINE-JUMPING PROBLEM. It was fucking out of control. The audacity of some people is actually astounding, because I could never imagine saying EXCUSE ME EXCUSE ME to 500 strangers who are watching you blatantly break the rules while tacking on to their wait time. Like, it’s bad enough when there are people holding spots for their friends (these two girls in front of us had an entire group of 4 join them when we were almost to the steps that lead to the station, it was insane) but the amount of people we watched walk all the way through the line, up the steps, and into the station was actually impressive. Like, the balls on those motherfuckers, you know? And of course, in this day and age, NO ONE will open their mouths and say, “Actually, no, I won’t excuse you” because you don’t know what kind of Crazy you’re facing. I’m not trying to get knocked out in line for a roller coaster, you know? And that really sucks and it’s beyond frustrating as well. Because I can be very confrontational and these are the times when I really want to be That Bitch but I also value my life and the life of my kid.

Ugh, I’m so angry all over again now.

However, one thing that I will say about the ride ops on this ride is that they actually do look out and scan the line, because twice while we were in line they busted people and actually called them out over the speakers. Dude really said, “We see you, we know what you look like, and when you get up here,  you will not get to ride.”

Oh shit, Chooch and I were screaming! When we were closer to the steps, we heard people up in the station burst out into applause and Henry, who was loitering by the exit with the other non-riding parents and low lifes confirmed that it was indeed a tall white man in a red shirt who was ejected from the ride (I mean, not literally, but that would be a great punishment for line-jumpers). Apparently he told his wife, “They wouldn’t let me ride!” and acted like he HAD NO IDEA WHY. Oh OK it couldn’t be the fact that you fucking breezed through 3/4 of the line while the rest of us stood there like obedient drones.

My favorite was the solitary girl in pink Crocs who muttered “excuse me” in a bored sigh over and over while holding her phone up  to her face. “She’s literally not even on a phone call,” Chooch observed.

Wow, what a brilliant line-jumping aid. THE FAKE PHONE CALL. Because no one is going  to step up to a broad talking on the phone.

Another guy line-jumped so fast that we lost track of him until Chooch pointed out that he had not only cut past people, but he was also jumping over railings, so he made it up to the ride platform almost in a blink of an eye.

And the crazy part is that these motherfuckers had to walk past the attendant sitting at the Fastlane entrance without getting caught and they did it every single time. Fucking amazing.

On one hand, it made the wait so much longer but on the other hand, it gave us something to fixate on so that was fun. Also, it’s something that doesn’t cause us to argue because what is Chooch really going to say? “No, you’re wrong, you don’t know their stories. Line jumpers might have a good reason for acting like they’re better than everyone else who has to stand in line. Maybe they just don’t have time to wait.”

LOL Chooch would never.

Surprisingly though, Green Lantern ended up being REALLY GOOD. Like, shockingly so. I was bracing myself for a piece of shit experience because it’s a stand-up coaster and ew, just no. But this damn thing was a fucking delight and I was not mad at all that we waited in line for over an hour even when the Six Flags app said 20 minutes. (We definitely knew that was not going to be NO GODDAMN 20 MINUTE WAIT, MARY.)

OMG OMG OMG then we went over to Bizarro.
You guys. I was NOT expecting to love this ride so hard.

It has impeccable theming.

AND FIRE!!

And what I didn’t even realize until we were on  the lift hill is that there are illuminated and misty Superman rings that you cruise through! I was SCREAMING, “CHOOH! CHOOCH! LOOK!” and he was like, “YEAH OK COOL I KNOW CHILL” and then I was like “TELL HENRY! TELL HIM!” because Henry was sitting on the end furthest away and couldn’t see the rings yet as we were climbing the lift hill and I needed him to know but he is sooooo hard of hearing so finally Chooch screamed at me, “HE CAN’T HEAR. HE’LL SEE THEM SOON ENOUGH. CALM DOWN!”

“I’m going to scream really loud when we go through them!” I shouted to Chooch as we crested the top of the hill, and then I did, too! I screamed my goddamn ugly dog-face off. I screamed, “YEAH! OMG HERE IT IS! YEAHHHHHH!” as we barrelled down the first hill and tore through the rings. And then when the fire part happened, I was shrieking. Oh shit, I just screamed and laughed through the whole fucking ride and Chooch was like, “OMG YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING STOP!!!!” but I couldn’t, I physically could not get myself to calm down!

And then when we were pulled back into the station and the operator asked if we had a good ride, I was the ONLY PERSON WHO “WOOOO!!!!!!”d on the whole train, and you know how much Chooch loved that shit!

Meanwhile, Henry said he didn’t hear me screaming at all. That man really needs a hearing aid. Also, he said he was a rough ride and I was like, “OK fragile bitch.”

Is Bizarro actually my favorite ride in the park? OMG I THINK IT IS.

(Keep in mind that I still not have not stuffed my ass into a seat on Nitro or El Toro, so that could change, lol.)

MMMM.

I think Chooch should get a summer job at an amusement park because he would be ruthless when it comes to handling line jumpers. We were talking about how parks should plant plainclothed employees and have them line jump periodically on different rides, so that they can get called out by a staff member and then be made an example of so people will be like, “Wow, they take this shit seriously here, I will just wait in line rather than get busted and dragged out of the park by security” but Chooch said, “No, they should just get shot.”

Like, OK Squid Game much.

Oh and speaking of Nitro, by the time we got off Bizarro, it was after 7pm, the sun had set, and the park was POPPING OFF. It was significantly more crowded than it was before we got in line for Bizarro (a line that no one cut in, I should add) and the line for Nitro was clear out of the queue and spilled out into the main walkway. I REALLY wanted to ride this and we didn’t have anything else to do that night, but the fact that it came so far out into the main area like that made me nervous that it would be even easier for people to cut because it was just an unorganized mass of people waiting out there and I became very frustrated thinking about it.

We have to go back at least once next year when El Toro is fixed, so I will ride it then. You and me, Nitro. You just wait. You and me.

We didn’t do any of the haunt stuff because some of it was extra which is fucking ridiculous, and there were so many people there. This was expected though, and it’s not why we were there, so I wasn’t crying about it.

I did enjoy the ambiance, but I gotta say: Cedar Point was better.

We left around 8 and were going to find a non-amusement park haunt to go to but GODDAMN haunted houses in NJ are $$$. Like, we’re talking $50-$60 a person!? Nope. No, thanks!

Anyway, that is my Six Flags Great Adventure story. Second time was definitely more charming than the first, but here’s hoping the third time is the ultimate charm! I gotta get in some more rides on Jersey Devil too. Kicking myself for not getting in a night ride while we were there but I honestly forgot all about it because I couldn’t stop talking about Bizarro and ranting at how there was NO BIZARRO merch there! None!!

Also, I learned that Bizarro was the very first floorless coaster in the whole entire world! Back when it debuted in 1999, it was called Medusa, but was later painted and rethemed to Bizarro. I can’t wait to ride it again. <3

Oct 132021
 

Hello it’s October aka Spooky Season as all the annoying kids say, so here are two pictures of Chooch being a gross clown at Zombie Fest in 2014. Also I’m kind of sad because this is the first year that I won’t be making a costume for him because he’s 15 and has no interest, should I have another kid then???

Quick! Someone lend me a kid to decorate.

Oct 122021
 

I was so excited when I went to bed Friday night because we were going to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey the next day. You know how when you’re a kid and you get that Xmas Eve bellyful of butterflies? That’s how I feel on nights before amusement park visits, lol.

“ONE MORE SLEEP UNTIL SIX FLAGS!” – says 42-year-old Erin, lol.

But then I woke up early as instructed by Road Trip Dad, and talk about WRONG SIDE OF THE BED times 18979312. To say I was in “a mood” is putting it mildly. I was basically on a rampage, prepared to have a terrible day, determined to shred my self-worth to shreds, refusing to let any rational thoughts or reasoning sink into my furious brain. So instead of leaving at 6am like Henry wanted, I threw a 2-hour-long fit, oscillating between I’M NOT GOING to WHY DON’T YOU CARE ENOUGH TO MAKE ME GO to I WISH I COULD RIP THE FLESH OFF MY BONES I HATE MYSELF SO MUCH.

I don’t know why I get this way.

Oh wait, yes I do. Bi-polar.

And an eating disorder/food phobia/body dysmorphia. Lol.

Anyway, two hours later and I had calmed down enough to put myself together and we set off (also because Henry already paid for the hotel and we were past the cancellation deadline lol). But my whole point in telling you all of this is that I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and even though the morning SUCKED and I hate feeling out of control, something good came out of it.

Because a few hours later, we stopped at a rest area near Bedford, PA and as we were walking across the parking lot, I heard someone say, “Erin?” At first it didn’t even occur to me it was actually me who was being addressed, but then when I noticed a woman walking toward me I went into FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT mode.

Then my eyes focused and I realized it was my friend Bridget, who left The Law Firm several years ago to move to Texas! It was honestly a really sad day when she left and I remember trying to avoid saying goodbye to her until the final hour when my friend Lauren came over to my desk and said, “OK look, you have got to tell her goodbye. I’ll go with you.” I might try to act like I’m all cold-hearted and partially agoraphobic, but I am a huge sap when it comes to saying goodbye.

Anyway, Bridget recently moved back to Pittsburgh and she and her husband were actually en route to Lancaster for the weekend, so it was a super happy coincidence that we happened to be traveling at the same time and in the same direction, and that we ran into each other at some rando rest stop!

Henry is angry at himself for missing the opportunity to harangue Bridget for endorsing Magic Spoon cereal because ever since she convinced me to give it a shot last spring, I have been hooked and that shit is not cheap (for cereal). Henry makes all kinds of sarcastic comments to Chooch, like, “No, you can’t get new shoes. Your mother has to buy her expensive cereal.” And “Wow, my cereal costs less AND I get so much more in a box.”

I don’t care, I love this stuff! The satiety factor is so good that I don’t want to eat  my arm off an hour post-breakfast like I usually do with anything else. I even bought the official Magic Spoon spoon!

And from a design standpoint, the boxes are so eye-catching and fun! Here are the fall flavors that I am almost out of and just told Henry I need to buy more at which point he mumbled about IT’LL HAVE TO WAIT because this cereal is apparently A LUXURY EXPENSE and not like when Chooch needs milk and Henry drops everything to run to the store.

Ugh.

Wow sorry. This somehow turned into a SPONSORED POST. j/k I have no sponsors.

Anyway! It was amazing to see Bridget but it made me sad also because I miss the way things used to be at the law firm, but I guess even then I was missing the way things used to be EVEN BEFORE, because we’re never happy in the moment ARE WE?

This was also hilariously the second time I’ve run into a former LAW FIRM friend at a rest stop. The other time was my friend Mary at a rest stop in Ohio on the way home from Cedar Point. WHO WILL BE THE THIRD, AND WHAT AMUSEMENT PARK WILL BE INVOLVED??

After that, we continued on through Pennsylvania, where I was desperate to find a Sheetz before entering the dreaded Wawa Zone, but the only one that was close was smack in the middle of Ren Faire land and traffic off of the exit ramp was a disaster.

So, no Sheetz (or lunch) for me. Henry and Chooch bought snacks at pretty much every single rest stop 7-11 so they were fine but I was going back and forth between I NEED TO EAT and STARVE YOURSELF, FAT GIRL. Saturday was a really good day for me. Lots of self love.

The rest of the drive was completely boring. I went back and forth between listening to an audio book and telling Henry that I hate him which he knows translates into, “I hate myself so much that the hate is overflowing and splashing onto you, I will probably apologize to you for this tomorrow but right now: I HATE YOU AND THINK YOU ARE SO DUMB AND YOU HAVE RUINED MY LIFE, FUCK OFF. P.S. YOUR HAIR CUT IS STUPID.

I am so pleasant!

Then we got to Six Flags Great Adventure and I funneled all of my hateful energy onto the copious amounts of LINE JUMPERS we encountered, so Chooch and Henry enjoyed the several hour reprieve from being on the receiving end of my wrath.

Six Flags stuff up next. Ciao for now!

Oct 102021
 

Hello. We are in Princeton, NJ about to make our way home from our time at Six Flags Great Adventure. Last night, we were out looking for War of the Worlds roadside attractions because apparently this is the area where the Orson Welles radio show happened. That was kind of a fail because we couldn’t see anything at night, but!! we drove past a shopping center with a sign for Woori Mart, which made me do a double take. “IS THAT A KOREAN MARKET” I screamed. It felt like it was the romanization for 우리 which means “our” in Korean. Sure enough I was right and I love being right!! It was closed but we stopped this morning after checking out from a Quality Inn that had music softly pumping out of speakers near the elevators, such as INFORMER BY SNOW.

Anyway, Woori Mart was cool. I bought a case of some type of beverage endorsed by Korea’s MC Yoo Jae Suk. And we got black sugar milk tea flavored Choco Pies and some other snack items, and good grapes. But we didn’t want to buy too much because we had already planned on stopping at an H-Mart in/near Philly, and that is where we are headed now, woo!

It’s now 11:07 and we’re leaving H-Mart. Henry was so annoying in there and spoke to me with no sincerity in his voice at all. Then he accidentally took someone else’s shopping cart and she was like excuse me this is my cart and I was like OMG GREAT JOB HANK because of course it was at a moment where he had handed the card off to me.

Here’s a selfie of Chooch and me inside Artbox!

I took it for Veronica because she is going to H-Mart in LA today.

Now Chooch is trying to retrieve his Apple juice from under the seat using the backscratcher he won at an arcade in George, NY over Labor Day weekend.

Props to Henry, I would never want to drive in Philly.

We made it! No one would order when the lady came to the window so I was like OMG CAN WE HAVE TWO VEGAN CHEESESTEAKS AND ONE VEGAN NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN. For gods sake, THESE PEOPLE!!

Anyway holy shit both sandwiches were good but that chicken was AMAZE. Unlike Eden Burger’s korean chicken sandwich, this one actually was coated in sauce we could taste and the fake chicken itself was delightful.

Did not enjoy sitting next to the road though.

Then we walked around for a few blocks because I didn’t want to get in the car right after eating. We went into a small pet shop and got Drew & Penelope cat nip bubbles and made friends with the shop cat, Marvel.

After calling Henry out for ogling numerous lingerie / bondage shops, we went into a comic book shop and the “saxophone guy in a thong on the boardwalk” song from The Lost Boys was playing but Dumb Chooch didn’t recognize it.

Oh yeah and we stopped at Dottie’s Donuts (also vegan) because we parked right across the street and I took it as a sign so we stopped in and got a hibiscus and blueberry jam-filled. Haven’t tried it yet because we’re still full from lunch but I’m sure at some point during the drive home we’ll be digging into them.

1:34pm: on our way out of Philly we passed Laurel Hill Cemetery and I was whining about how I always wanted to go there, and Henry was like OH OK REALLY? HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW ABOUT IT like I WASNT masquerading as a goth for like 4 years of my life. I started naming off things about it.

“And it’s a really popular place for photo shoots,” I finished.

“Ok let’s never go there,” Chooch piped up from the backseat.

2:23pm and we just left the PETER J CAMIEL rest stop. Henry needs to find another rest stop because “there were too many people in the bathroom” and he needs “to sit down.”

You’re welcome.

Wait! More rest stop happenings. We decided to taste test the two donuts from Dottie’s (I was like WE ARE JUST GETTING TWO BC EVERY TIME WE GET MORE THAN THAT ITS GLUTTONOUS).

Hibiscus: v. good & light, the glaze is v.v.v.sweet though, with just the right amount of floral. Into it.

Blueberry jam-filled: DELECTABLE and visually pleasing. I had to make Henry take it away from me so I didn’t inhale the whole thing.

Meanwhile, some dude was getting out of his car and Henry noted, “That guy gets out of his car the same way I do. Let’s see if he’s limping when he walks—oh! He is! Let’s see if his wife makes fun of him–Nope, she’s holding his hand and helping him! Wow. You just slam doors in my face.”

Omg we’re at another rest area you’re shocked. We checked on the popsicles that we bought a thousand hours ago at Hmart knowing damn well they’d be melted even though they were in a cooler with ice but that’s HOW FROZEN STUFF WORKS I guess. But henry was all THEY WILL BE OK WHEN WE PUT THEM IN THE FREEZER.

Chooch ate…er…drank one and said that, contrary to Henry’s optimistic assumption, there is no way they will refreeze and be ok. Then Chooch & I cooed over a corgi who was being walked over by the garbage can where we were throwing away wrappers of Korean snacks.

When we got back to the car after that, Henry was all LOOK AT THE CORGI and we were like WE KNOW BUT NICE TRY. Then I told him that Chooch said the popsicles probably won’t be ok when they refreeze and Henry barked, “WHO said that??”

“The corgi, henry. The corgi told me that. He is a fucking Popsicle oracle.” My god, CHOOCH SAID IT, HENRY!! TRY TO KEEP UP! Fuck.

Hello from the last rest stop in PA at 6:21. Henry had to pee SO BAD but chooch and I stayed in the car. Thank god henry was kind enough to park with this wonderful BLARING view of the sun.

I want to kill him, honestly.

It’s 7:04 and we’re on our street. BYE!!

Oct 082021
 

Good morning! Today is Hangeul Day (한글날) in Korea, which is a day to celebrate and commemorate the creation of the Korean alphabet by the great King Sejong in the 15th century.

Obviously I am not Korean but nevertheless, I have a very deep respect and love for Hangeul. The way it sounds and absolutely the way it looks made me want to learn it; while I can still hardly speak Korean, just the ability to decipher Hangeul has made my life feel so much fuller. Learning it made me feel like a code had been cracked and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, honestly.

The first time we went to Koreatown in Toronto, I was in tears because we were surrounded by signs and storefronts smothered in Hangeul and I was able to read it. I kept pointing things out to Henry and he was like “ok I get it cool mmm.”

It’s such a beautiful language and I’m happy to celebrate it today, even as just an American from Pittsburgh.

Anyway, I’d like to share some Hangeul-laden pictures from our trips to Korea. Just look at how pretty those characters are!

This one is really sad – Many families were pulled apart during the Korean conflict and those in the South are still trying desperately to be reunited with estranged family members. There was a TV show to help these efforts and people wrote down their addresses and phone numbers to be posted in Imjingdak. We saw this during the DMZ/JSA tour we took in 2019.

I really hope I get to visit 한국 again someday. Happy Hangeul Day, my friends! Go watch a Korean drama today with subtitles, no dubbing!

Oct 082021
 

There is nothing quite like a Friday in October to get the butterflies in my belly all boisterous. I love this month so much!  I am going to write about FIVE THINGS today that have me in a GOOD MOOD, which means I can’t write about the ongoing DOMESTIC DRAMA on the other side of Hot Naybor Chris’s house, because that is not very good mood-inducing and is actually just very sad and depressing so we’ll save that one for a rainy day, literally.

  1.  Autumn always has me thinking about that good ol’ goth chatroom I used to frequent back in the late 90s, Darkchat (don’t Google that because whatever you’ll find is 100% NOT where I used to spend my Internet time!). I was living in my first apartment, this was back in 1998, and didn’t have a computer of my own. My mom had just bought this BRAND NEW THING called WebTV where you literally used your TV to connect to the Internet. I started going over there late at night after I was done working (at EchoStar lolol) just so I could fuck around on this Internet thingaling. I literally cannot remember how this happened, but as a joke I found this goth chatroom and thought it would be fun to infiltrate and pretend I was goth except that I immediately made a ton of friends and realized that I actually kind of fit in there. WHO KNEW. Anyway, my little bro Corey, who must have been about 9 at the time, started going to this chatroom too, using the name “Franklin” (literally after the Nick Jr cartoon about the turtle) and would enter the chat by saying, “Good eve, all.” I just thought about this the other day and was cracking up so bad because I don’t think anyone realized an elementary school kid was so very deftly holding his own in a chatroom-full of brooding goths. This into has nothing to do what I’m about to say next but I just wanted to share it because I thought it was so cute! But the real point of this is to say that “Franklin” grew up to become PITTSBURGH’S #1 REAL ESTATE AGENT! THAT’S MY LITTLE BRO, YOU GUYS!!! I am so proud of him and look forward to the day when I can really push him to his limit with my very specific criteria of: COTTAGE CORE BUT ALSO TURRETS, ROOM FOR HENRY TO BUILD SECRET PASSAGES, POTENTIALLY HAUNTED.

2. Speaking of being PROUD of people younger than me, our very own Chooch has his first job interview today after school. This kid has been salivating at the prospect of getting a job since he was like 10. He is money-hungry, ambitious, and self-motivated the nth degree and now he is finally of age to get a part-time job. Neither Henry nor I have told him that he has to get one – this is all him. He went around collecting job applications on his own, got the necessary shit from the guidance office at school, and even went to the fucking Board of Education in Oakland on his own to get his student work permit. (I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HE NEEDED TO DO THAT, THANK GOD HE HAS ASKED ME TO LIFT NARY A FINGER IN THIS WHOLE PROCESS.) And now, today after school, he has an interview at a nearby McDonald’s where one of his friends also works, which he is able to easily access via the T. On one hand, I’m like, “Where did this child come from” but then I remember that I also was super into the idea of getting a job when I was in high school and applied EVERYWHERE which is how I memorized my SSN# and never forgot it. However, when I did eventually get a job, it was at the dollar store at the mall. On my very first shift, I got into an argument with a customer, went on my break and never came back. Never bothered to get another job in high school after that lol. Last night on the way home from a haunted house with Janna, he was calculating how much his paychecks could potentially be if he gets the job and how he will take $20 out of each paycheck for afterschool spending money and save the rest. Please let him always have these values, oh god, please.

3. Speaking of HAUNTED HOUSES, Chooch and I went to Rich’s Fright Farm last night with JANNA. It was only my second time hanging out with her since Pandemic Times started, and Chooch’s first! Anyway, even though she was 40 MINUTES late getting to my house last night, Chooch and I managed to forgive her and we all had a WONDERFUL time. I forgot hw cathartic it is to push her into chainsaw guys and scream JANNA LOOK OUT every 2 seconds. My chest actually hurt from screaming and laughing so hard AND it wasn’t crowded so at all so that was a big relief because even though I had my mask, who wants to be herded through a haunted house with a crowd of people who may or may not be vaccinated, NOT ME. This place used to have a SLIDE that was really well placed so that when you reached the bottom, not only were you a bit disoriented, but now you’ve got monsters in your face. I remember specifically the one year we landed ourselves right in the middle of a bunch of undead debutantes twirling around at a BALL. It was amazing and creepy.

I call this one: JANNA EXITS THE PORTABLE POT.

4. The other day, I found the little Flatwoods Monster figurine I bought at the Flatwoods Monster Museum a few years ago when we were on our way home from Dollywood. It was in one of my billion purses, none of which I have been using much over the last year and a half since I don’t go anywhere aside from amusement parks these days. But anyway, I was so happy to find it because I thought it was LOST. I put it on my very special Souvenir Shelf, which is one my fave spots in the house because, well, isn’t that why we buy souvenirs? To be reminded of the fun we had in awesome places?! I’m super into souvenirs, even if it’s just something simple and cheap like a magnet (although, hello inflation – magnets aren’t very cheap anymore!!). Anyway, here is my Souvenir Shelf! Also, Henry cut this shelf from neon acrylic!

That penis-shaped thing is my favorite, lol. It came on top of a bottle of medicinal wine from Jeonju, South Korea. I guess you’re supposed to drink from it. Most of the stuff on the shelf is from Korea, but there’s also stuff from Japan, Italy, Morocco, Toronto, Australia, and a seashell from Wildwood lol!

5. Do you guys ever have that thing happen where you think of something that you haven’t thought of in a really long time and then it comes up 2 or 3 more times in the same week? I used to know the name of that phenomenon but now I forget. Oh what’s that you say? Google it like a real professional blogger would? OK hold please.

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (a.k.a. the Recency Bias or Frequency Illusion) The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, otherwise known as the frequency illusion or recency bias, is a situation where something you recently learned about suddenly seems to appear everywhere.

Ehhhh…..sort of? In this case, it wasn’t something that I just learned. We were watching Squid Game last week and I made some offhand comment about how the character Kang Sae-Byeok resembles, in a way, the OG Swedish Pippi Longstocking. It’s the shape of her face and freckles that does it, I think. Of course Henry was like, “Um OK sure” because we never agree on anything. But then, after I said it, I was like, “Aw, Pippi” in my head because I loved/hated that when I was a kid. It was actually quite terrifying!

OK, so then a few days later, The Best Realtor in Pgh texted me and was like REMEMBER WHEN I WAS OBSESSED WITH PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, THE SWEDISH ONE? And I was like, “Bruh.”

THEN!! Yesterday, my beloved TOP from BIGBANG posted this on Instagram:

WHAT.DOES.IT.MEAN? Aside from that I need to re-watch this as an adult, pronto.

Bonus Friday Fact: My birth dad’s last name was actually Pippi!! Thank god my mom remarried when I was so young so that I didn’t have to go  through school as Erin Pippi. Granted, now I go through work days being erroneously called Kelly in emails by people outside of the department, but whatever. I’ll take that, I guess.

Also!! Chooch is an idiot and fucked around in Oakland after school instead of getting right on the bus to come home for his job interview, resulting in Henry having to meet him at the T-stop near McDonald’s so that he could change his clothes in the car, and he made it into McDonald’s right on time…..for them to tell him the interview needs to be rescheduled.

For tomorrow.

When we will not be in town.

NEVER MIND!! Henry just called me and apparently they’re doing his interview now after all.

Oct 062021
 

Here are the books I read in the last half of September, my book-dorks!

7. The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang 

Book Cover

This book is a real chunker!! It’s book one in a series and wildly popular around the various bookish social media circles but I kept avoiding it because, well, fantasy. Right out of the gate, this book started out strong AF. We’re following a teenage orphan, Rin, who is about to be sold off to some fat old guy and either she can become his wife/concubine, or she can study her fucking ass and ace this super important test to get into the elite Sinegard military academy.

I was really into this book for about the first half. I thought the characters were great, the dialogue was punchy, there was perfectly-timed effortless humor, the tension was palpable. But then it got too political/war-y and I was lost. These are elements and themes in books that will almost ALWAYS lose me, so this is no slight against the author. That lady can WRITE. But I just had no idea what was going on for most of the second half and there were too many characters for me to keep straight. I’m not sure I will continue this series, but I would watch if it was ever adapted into movies or a mini-series for sure.

8. Razorblade Tears – S.A Crosby

Book Cover

If there is only one book recommendation you take from me this year, it’s this one: READ THIS BOOK. NOW. RIGHT NOW. GO TO YOUR LIBRARY. GO TO YOUR LOCAL INDIE BOOKSHOP. GO TO YOUR LIBBY APP. You want to talk about two of the most compelling characters written this year, it’s Buddy and Ike. HOO BOY.

This is a classic Odd Couple-trope where two unlikely anti-heroes band together to avenge the deaths of their sons, who also happened to be married. One dad is Black, one is white, and the one thing they had in common prior to their sons being murdered is that neither of them could accept that their sons were gay. So there is a lot of powerful conversations about homosexuality, transphobia, racism, and classism in these pages, while maintaining the pulse-quickening, page-turning status of a crime thriller. This book was ACTION-PACKED. One of the booktubers I watch said she kept picturing Woody Harrelson as Buddy and holy shit, yes.

This book had me screaming. By the end, I was bawling. I just ready that Jerry Bruckheimer is apparently trying to buy the rights. I know it will eventually be turned into a movie because it literally reads like an action flick, and I hope that whoever takes the helm treats these characters with respect because they are some of the most memorable fictional people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

I need to read more from S.A. Crosby, STAT.

9. One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston

Book Cover

Ew I just realized that this book cover has the same color palette as the last book! But they couldn’t be more different lol.

I have to admit that I thought McQuiston’s previous book, Red White and Royal Blue, was way overrated. It was a cute political/royal queer romance and I enjoyed it but I also didn’t think it was THAT GREAT? This one, however, made me change my mind about McQuiston because I felt that it highlighted her quirky and fresh writing skills. This reads like a Netflix series, if that makes sense. I could 100% imagine this being a TV show and me being so fucking into it because it has a STRONG sense of found family and that is one of my favorite things in books and TV.

Our main character, August, has just moved to NYC to finish college but mostly to get away from her mom who has spent her entire adult life searching for her missing brother. August moves into an apartment already occupied by three other people, gets a job at a quirky and beloved diner, and….falls in love with a girl who has been stuck in a loop on the subway since the late 70s.

Yeah, it’s fucking weird. But the side characters!! Fuck the romance, I was here for the roommate escapades. Wes and his excruciating love for the drag queen who lives across the hall?? The snarky Russian diner manager?? Everyone in this book was big and bright and popped right off the pages. Also, I kept picturing a young Sara Rue as August and now I need a COMING SOON TO NETFLIX announcement or at the very least a spin-off with the roommates.

10. The Twisted Ones – T.Kingfisher

Book Cover

I read The Hollow Place by this author last year and have the same opinion with this one: I love how T.Kingfisher writes. Both books were like reading about Lorelai Gilmore going on a paranormal adventure and bitching the whole time about how she didn’t sign up for this.

So, the main broad is in some super small southern town cleaning out her dead grandmother’s house who, surprise, was a hoarder, and also lives near the woods where weird deer-things keep flitting about and there’s a creepy effigy hanging from a tree and she finds her dead stepgrandfather’s diary that has lots of absurd shit written in it and she thinks he must have had dementia, etc etc etc.

And I loved being in the character’s head, I loved meeting the townspeople with her, I LOVED HER DOG. But like the last one, once the actual climax of the paranormal shit began, it lost me and I actually got bored. I think I would like her books better if it focused on more of the quirky small-town vibes and completely omitted the “horror.” Because it’s not really that scary.

11. Survive the Night – Riley Sager

Book Cover

LOL, this book is trash. I was on the fence with Riley Sager prior to this. I had read three of his books, thought two of them were pretty good, didn’t care much for the third. But this is the book that made me finally admit that, you know what? This dude does not deserve the hype, man. This shit read like a Christopher Pike book from the 80s. And I loved Christopher Pike books…when I was in 5th and 6th grade.

Henry actually hates this guy and has DNFd him in the past, totally refuses to give him another chance. He is very happy that I have officially joined his sector of the Riley Sager is Trash club.

I don’t even want to talk about the plot because it’s dumb and also predictable and wow, the characters were like floppy cut-outs going “meep meep” and “moop moop” instead of having meaningful conversations or saying ANYTHING of substance. No one had depth! This was SO LAME. I didn’t care if ANYONE survived the night!! And the ending, the fuck was that?? I won’t spoil it but Riley Sager hates women I think.

12. Ace of Spades – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Book Cover

This book is billed as “Gossip Girl” meets Get Out and I can’t argue with that at all. The only two Black students in a prestigious high school are suddenly the targets of anonymous text-blasts and it quickly becomes clear that someone wants them out of the school.

The main characters are so strong and while they are definitely flawed (thank you for writing real teenagers, Faridah!), you will still root for them until your chest hurts. And there were so many times when the audacity of the white kids in this book gave me fucking chest pains. But yeah, if you’re a fan of “Gossip Girl,” Get Out, and the dark academia genre, then this should be in your wheelhouse. Just be prepared to have your teeth set on edge at the injustice these kids face because of their skin color.

Also stick around for the author’s note at the end. She is amazing and I look forward to reading more from her in the future!

***

OK that wraps up September! Can you believe I got this all done in the first week of October?! Pardon me while I go and treat myself to an episode of Hometown Cha Cha Cha now.

Oct 052021
 

There has been all kinds of neighbor drama this week and I think it’s made me depressed. So…Who doesn’t love CAT PICS?? Serial killers probably.

Let’s see what my childs have been up to, shall we?

I got a new pillow for the church pew so suddenly this spot is a hot commodity again.

LASER EYE.

Oh, soooo stoked.

Neon Drew.

BONUS: And here we have MRS GRAY GIRL (sorry for calling you Mr Gray Guy for months) being a brat. <3

Oct 032021
 

Oh hello, Monday. You cunt.

I had a great weekend but thanks for breaking up the party, motherfucker.

What did I do, you ask, you piece of shit weekday? WELL, LET ME TELL YOU.

ERIN GETS HER HAUNT BACK

Dude. We didn’t go to single haunted house last season. I know that a bunch of them were open, as were amusement parks, but without vaccinations happening at the time, we opted to keep staying home even if that meant missing haunted house season for the first time since, god, the 90s probably. But this year, we are READY! I couldn’t imagine making my comeback at any place other than the famous CASTLE BLOOD. You have to know by now that this is my favorite haunt, the one closest to my heart, the one that has my ultimate allegiance. It’s creative, original, intelligent, unique, OOAK, A+ haunting, do recommend. 

I was so excited that I kept changing clothes and screaming WHAT ABOUT THIS OUTFIT DOES IT LOOK GOOD and Henry was like “We are just going to a haunted house…?” but it felt like PROM FOR ME OK. Erin’s BIG NIGHT OUT. Getting made fun of. Screaming her face off. SOLVING PUZZLES. This is what I was born to do and I wanted to make sure I had the appropriate uniform to show the haunt world that I’m back AND I AM READY TO BE SPOOKED.

Chooch took this for me and was really happy to assist. But you figured that.

We “let” Chooch invite two of his friends and I was stoked because they were FRESH BLOOD. The one kid is younger and not very well-versed in haunts so he was like WHAT IS THIS PLACE and IS IT REALLY HAUNTED and EXCUSE ME SIR BUT WHAT IS A GYPSY. He had questions. Lots of them. He was also the worst teammate! The whole point of Castle Blood is that you walk through the place talking to (or getting yelled at by, in my case, usually) the Denizens. Somewhere along the way, there are THREE  TALISMAN revealed to you and you have to solve puzzles, make trades, bat your eyelashes (in my case, usually) to earn those talismans. Some of these challenges can be super mind-boggling so if you’re planning on heading out to the Castle at some point, choose your companions carefully. We almost failed because our group was so dense!

But wow, it felt so good to be back there again and to see so many of our undead friends!

I was really excited to bring out my haunted house journal and scribble out the full deets but I COULDN’T FIND IT, DOT DOT DOT TO BE CONTINUED.

I wrote an actual review of Castle Blood several years ago and you should read that and then go purchase tickets.

Castle Blood: The Ultimate Halloween Adventure

After chatting with our friends outside the castle for a bit, we stopped at Sheetz where a bunch of high school kids was loitering because…football game or something. OMG why are teenaged girls so freakishly robotic these days?!? Poor Sheetz was full of frigid vibes and the stench of cheap F21 body spray.

There was a group of them in there who all looked the same, same dead-eyes that bore right through me, same vocal fry monotone, same super-contoured makeup. I was standing there waiting for my PUMPKIN CHAI thank you Sheetz for having semi-imbibable chai, when one of the drones shambled by, looking straight through me with her weird rhinestone-embellished icy eyes, and croaked, “heeeey” to another group of girls, who responded with an equally bored “heeey” and then they just stood there and one of them was like, “I’m going to go outside-UH” because they punctuate all of their sentences with a “just took a swig of La Croix” air expellant. It’s like Valley Girls on anti-depressants, I truly do not know how else to describe this bizarre form of communication these strange suburban teen girls have created.

When the one girl walked away, the other two girls rolled their eyes behind her back. Then the same thing happened with another Gen Z Droid when she did her weird pigeon-walk over to the group and engaged in soulless banalities.  “They all hate each other,” I said to Henry, not even whispering. “Every single girl hates each other secretly.” Then we watched as they all peeled off their faces to reveal their true lizard selves.

THE FANS

I spent a great deal of time on Saturday relaxing and walking around the ‘hood. On one such walk, I encountered these dumb children sitting under a sign that said FANS FOR SALE. Literally, I thought they were selling, like, old box fans and I wondered if their parents knew, but it turns out they were slinging handmade paper fans. I stupidly stopped and took my headphones off instead of acting like I didn’t hear their cries of Desperate Salespeople and then, and I don’t know why I said this, but I did: “I don’t have money on me but I will come back.”

I’m a lot of things. I’m a kid-disliker for one, this we all know. But I am not a LIAR. I literally hate lying so much and I also hate breaking promises because I have had these things done to me so many times growing up that yes, yes I WOULD like some dip with those chips on my shoulder. I thought you’d never ask.

The younger of the two was going to let me pick a fan and pay later and as I was shaking my head and rejecting this offer, her sister (?) was stage-whispering, “Like a presale? I don’t think that’s a thing!”

Smart girl! Don’t give the sweaty stranger anything in advance!

But now I was determined to go home and get money so that they can have a little bit of faith that not all grown-ups will lie to them. I was pretty far from my house so by the time I got home, I was all out of breath and huffed to Henry, “Give me $2.”

“For what?” he asked, like OK dad, didn’t realize I needed to hand over a ledger of how I’m spending your money, but cook on. He actually had to get a dollar from Chooch who is never happy to part with his cash, and I could hear him upstairs asking, “WHY does she need it?” and Henry just mumbled in response. Henry was on his way out to THE STORE when this was happening so I hitched a ride with him because those bitches (lol they’re like 5 & 7) live about a 30-minute walk away and guys, sometimes I get tired.

So we roll up to their house and now they have collected some other child who is hovering on the sidewalk on her bike, watching this transaction go down. So, I thought I would be nice and buy two fans from them, hence the $2, so that they could each have a sale, but GET THIS:

The fan that I wanted was $2!!! “It’s because it’s the best one,” the older, I-Don’t-Believe-In-Presales one said curtly.

Are you effing kidding. What a fucking racket. So I let them pick two $1 fans for me and this is what I got:

When I got back in the car, Henry was like, “Oh. Wow. That is….not what I thought they were going to be.”

The next day when Chooch got in the car and saw them, he was like, “The fuck are these?” And when I explained it to him he yelled, “You BOUGHT these?!”

Yeah, with YOUR money, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I should have asked if they were under warranty though because one broke already. Like, can I go back to their house and ask them for a replacement piece of Scotch tape? How does this work?

SQUIDS OVER COASTERS

We had actually planned to go to Dorney Park on Saturday, but I woke up on Saturday IN A MOOD. I was high key PMSing, and lowkey wanting to finish the last two episodes of Squid Game, so I made the executive decision of staying home (and also because I decided that I would rather wait until next weekend and go to Six Flags Great Adventure instead, lol, my ambition is so dumb). So like, I don’t know what else to say other than if you haven’t watched Squid Game yet, what is wrong with you. It’s crazy to me how insanely popular this has become in the US because god forbid we let other countries do a thing better than us, amirite. But it’s also NOT surprising because as someone who watches a ton of Korean shows, I know how amazing Korean actors are. (I mean, one of my favorite actors of all time has a small cameo in this series and I was screaming!)

There is SO MUCH I WANT TO SAY about this and it is literally all I have been able to talk about (thank god Henry and Chooch also watched it or else I’d be talking into the void as usual) but I will just say that it deserves all the praise and accolades it’s been getting, it’s worth the hype, FUCKING RECOGNIZE THE FACT THAT KOREA IS CAPABLE OF PUTTING OUT SOLID ENTERTAINMENT, THANK YOU.

Basically this is how I feel though:

Me, for the last 6 years, screaming into the void: WATCH KOREAN TV SHOWS, THEY ARE AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING!

Everyone: ……………..

TikTok, in 2021: Watch Squid Game yo.

Everyone: OMG I AM WATCHING THIS KOREAN SHOW AND IT IS ACTUALLY* GOOD.

*Yep, gotta qualify that with an “actually” because Asian stuff is supposed to be lesser than,  you know.

Ugh.

Also, I drive Henry when we watch Korean stuff together because I can’t get my brain to turn off “must learn this language: desperation mode” and I am constantly straining to parse out what is being said versus what I’m seeing in the subtitles and it is FRUST-to the-RATING. For instance, I kept screaming, “THEY JUST SWORE THERE BUT THE SUBTITLES ARE MAKING IT WATERED DOWN WHYYYYY” and I thought it was just me being ridiculous but this Korean guy I follow on Twitter had a whole thread-rant about it on Saturday and was like, “They are clearly saying Korean swears but the subtitles are making them sound like Napoleon Dynamite” and I was dying because yeah, I got that too.

Ugh there is so much more I want to say about that, because even from a remedial language-knowing standpoint, there was enough that got dropped in the translation for even me to notice. I don’t think it would really affect anyone else watching it though, it is a PHENOMENAL show regardless and I am so proud that my favorite country in the whole wide world is getting its time to shine.

But yeah, I started to watch Midnight Mass after finishing this and can confirm that Squid Game has ruined me for all other TV shows for a bit because Midnight Mass is like a heaping pile of steamed shit after watching that fucking masterpiece.

(THE DYNAMIC, UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS, THOUGH!!!!!!!!! Oh god, my HEART.)

BRB, scheduling an appointment for my Squid Game tattoo.

EH, DONUTS

Also on Saturday, we got vegan donuts from Valkyrie but they were just OK because my PMS Palate was being PERSNICKETY, and also Henry lowkey fat-shamed me and then tried to say he didn’t and then got mad at for being mad at him and that was a whole thing that happened Saturday before Chooch even woke up for the day.

(I’m sorry but one of those was supposed to be French Toast and it actually tasted disgusting. And the one I was most looking forward to, Caramel Apple Pie, tasted like I made it. Like I got a previoulsy-made donut and poured some canned apple pie filling inside of it and then charged a bunch of money because: vegans. Our first two visits to this donut trailer was exceptional so I dunno if it was my mood or what.)

Then I made a garland out of these pumpkins I bought at Target (OK fine, Henry did it) and I love that they match the colors of the kitchen, lol.

CRYING IN THE OFFICE

OK Sunday started off sad. It was suggested to us recently that we might want to go into the office and start bringing stuff home because even when/if we return to WORKING IN PERSON WITH PEOPLE, we will probably have much less office space because the Firm is looking to pare down its real estate. I had a feeling that maybe I left my haunted house journal there because I used to take it to work during the Halloween season to try and write my recaps during downtime and I thought that perhaps I just left it in my desk after the 2019 season.

Henry came with me because I figured I better bring some stuff home (like the entire box of shoes I keep under my desk – Henry was like ARE YOU KIDDING ME, WHERE DID THESE SHOES EVEN COME FROM like they hatched under my desk from rogues Peds or something) and I actually cried a little in the elevator on the way to the 10th floor. It was my first time back there since the middle of March 2020!

Anyway, I threw out a bunch of papers, old candy (super sad face), took down all of my magnets and brought them home to live on the fridge (HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE A LOT OF MAGNETS, WOW, YEAH, WE DON’T GO ANYWHERE Henry exclaimed when I kept plucking more and more souvenir/travel magnets off my cabinets and into a bag), and then even though I knew it would be like twisting the knife in my already bleeding heart, I ventured over to the area where all of the GLENNS live.

OMG I’m sad again.

Oh! And my haunted house journal WAS NOT THERE.

MISSING HAUNTED HOUSE JOURNAL

So my journal was still missing and Henry was like, “It has to be in the house somewhere. We will find it. I am big strong man. Woof.”

He was tearing up the basement because we thought maybe it ended up in a box when we were redoing the coffee table (we, lololololololol). Meanwhile, I went into my bedroom and opened a desk drawer, and there it was, lying fully exposed, right there, lol. I yelled down to the basement to let Henry know that he could call off the search.

“Where was it?” he asked, and when I told him, he said, “Oh so it was where I was about to look two days ago but you said, ‘No, it definitely won’t be in there, don’t bother’?” and….yeah, pretty much. LOL.

A GOOD OLD-SCHOOL HAUNT

I wanted to go to another haunted house on Sunday (I try to avoid Saturdays!) but I wanted something to new-to-us and also something that was reasonably priced so that Henry would be more willing to join us. I am really depressed at how none of my friends (at least my local friends) enjoy haunted houses. I miss the 90s and early 00s when we would cram into Lisa’s Jeep and hit up two or three in one night and then drink coffee at HOME COOKIN’ until 2am. Don’t get me wrong, I like going with Chooch but now that he’s wanting to bring friends with him, I feel like such a fucking lame-ass tag-along. Like, oh Chooch please let Mommy hang out with you and your friends, please, I’m desperate.

But anyway, I digress. I’ll just place an ad on Craigslist for Halloween friends, I guess.

I found a listing for this one haunted house in Wheeling, WV which is only about 45 minutes away from Pittsburgh AND it was only $15 which is a STEAL when it comes to haunted houses in 2021, you guys. A real fucking steal.

We stopped at Sheetz for dinner on the way, and clearly, Sheetz is part of the spooky process. Henry was being a diva and didn’t get any food, just iced coffee. OK, America’s Next Top Model.

We got to Infernum In Terra right when it opened and ended up being GROUP 3!

Pre-Haunt Selfie – Henry was behind us in the portajohn and if you don’t think I have regERTZ about not waiting to snap the pic until he emerged, then you are dead wrong because I have been dwelling on this all day to the point where I cannot wait for my next chance at a do-over.

I don’t want to put too much in here because I still have to write about it in my JOURNAL and then I won’t be inspired to give it my all (seriously you guys writing hurts my hand so much these days) but I am happy to report that this was

JUST

MY

STYLE.

Old school, low-tech, volunteers giving their whole hearts. I fucking loved every minute of it but my favorite parts were when Satan’s wings hit Henry in the face and some monster called him an Old Man. Also when Chooch was chosen to go to confession and confessed to stealing a pencil…from a desk.

Not even from a store.

From a desk.

At school.

I gushed about how much we liked it when we emerged back at the ticket counter. Usually, I will also blabber on about how I’ve been keeping a haunted house journal since 1995, etc etc but COVID has made me even more anti-social than I was before.

On the way home, Henry stopped at ANOTHER Sheetz and got a meat stick and meat roll.

“I hate the way you breathe when you’re eating meat,” I scoffed in disgust.

“Yeah, it’s him thirsting for more,” chimed in Chooch the Backseat Pest.

“Well, it’s mostly bread,” Henry mumbled. “So fuck off.”

Then we talked about Squid Game the whole way home and it was really a really nice Sunday Night Outing to the Haunted House with Family.

I hope the rest of October is this nice. I mean, minus my PMS pissiness. That was mostly Saturday though. I’m already back to my STANDARD, LOVEABLE SELF.

Oct 022021
 

My book-choosing skills improved drastically last month, like the library gods took pity upon me after the horrid reading month I had in August. So I am happy to report back to you, Internet Diary, all the books I was reading in September instead of writing here in you. Well, the first half, anyway.

  1. We Run the Tides – Vendela Vida

We Run the Tides

This was an EXCELLENT kick-off to month nine. I don’t even know what inspired me to pick it up because I hadn’t heard about it anywhere, but then it popped up on Scribd one day and I saved it for some reason.

The setting is 1980s San Francisco and we’re following Eulabee, a middle schooler, and three of her supposed best friends. I love me some good coming-of-age books and this one delivered. The girls in this book were SUCH BITCHES. Oh, and please don’t think this is some lame YA book because it’s definitely written as adult fiction and superbly at that.

2. The Lost Village – Camilla Sten

The Lost Village

This Swedish horror novel is GOOOOD. If you like Blair Witch-y things, and I surely do, then this might be something for you. It’s about a woman who is filming a documentary about what is literally a lost village in Sweden, where one day in 1959 everyone disappeared. The documentarian has familial ties to the village – her grandmother was born there but had moved away with her husband before the mysterious Disappearing happened, leaving behind her parents and younger sister.

What I liked about this is that it goes back and forth between the present day with the documentarian and her small crew as they are scouting the area, obtaining b-roll, etc.. and the days leading up to the mass disappearance.

There were times where I was REALLY creeped out (I was listening to this on audio over Labor Day weekend when we were in the car which was oftentimes AT NIGHT ooooh) and was actually very interested in the plot and invested in the characters. If you’re into slow burn, atmospheric horror and not so much gory, serial killer, monster shit, then maybe you’ll like this WHO AM I TO SAY?

Fun fact about Blair Witch, though: I was 100% convinced that it was real because I saw it several months before it was released – I don’t even think any previews had come out yet. I had a friend who was the manager of Eide’s Entertainment and he had somehow gotten his hands on an advanced copy of it. We watched it knowing NOTHING and then Janna and I were so scared driving back to my apartment late that night in the dark, lol. Then I remember that the website was set up to make it seem like it was literally found footage as well, and we were like OH MY GAWDDDDDD. Man, imagine how much longer they could have dragged that out if it had come out in the late 80s instead.

And FWIW, I still really love that film. It’s a legit pioneer of the found footage horror genre and was just done to perfection. The scene with Heather crying real-ass tears into the camera? Iconic.

That being said, if this was turned into a movie, I’d watch the shit out of it. In the dark. Holding my stuffed dog, Purple.

3. Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan

Zara Hossain Is Here

Wanna get your blood boiling? Need extra motivation to punch a racist today? (Like we don’t have it in spades.) Then read this book and imagine for a second what it’s like for POC teens going to school every day and getting bullied, dragged, harassed, threatened, and terrorized by ignorant piece of shit white kids. And then imagine when it spills over and affects your entire family.

The rep is pretty good in this one too, as our main character is Pakistani and bisexual, and there are some great conversations about culture, race, ethnicity and sexuality in here. Zara is such a strong female lead too with a sweet and strong relationship with her parents that made my heart swell. This book has got to be so important for all the Muslim teens out there.

I think books of this nature should really be required reading in middle and high school. When white kids are consistently being forced to read classics written by, for, and about other white people, it’s just helping that cycle of systemic racism to continue right the hell along. These kids should be reading about the struggles that their very own neighbors are having because of their skin color, religious beliefs, gender identity, etc.

I am 99.999999999% confident in the fact that my kid is never going to walk into school and start slinging racial slurs or engage in blatant cultural appropriation, etc., but every time I read a book like this, I feel compelled to give him THE OL’ REMINDER of how we do and do not treat people in this house. I know he gets it but at the same time, I’m not going to just say it once and then sit back and assume that’s enough parenting. I actually just overheard him and two of his friends talking in the car last night about some white kid at school who claims it’s OK to use the n-word when gaming and Chooch was like, “NO IT’S NOT. IT’S LITERALLY NEVER OK FOR A WHITE PERSON TO SAY THAT” and his friends vehemently agreed and I was like, “Yesssss, Chooch. Educate.”

Fighting racism is FULL TIME and the more books out there with characters like Zara Hossain, the better.

4.  Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising

This might be the only book in September that I just didn’t really like all that much. It wasn’t bad enough to DNF but it made me realize that this author might not actually be worth the hype? I read Daisy Jones and The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by her and really enjoyed both, and unwisely assumed that I would be super into this one as well, especially since it’s set around the children of one of the seven husbands in the author’s last book.

The story takes place over the span of 24 hours in the early 80s, where two brothers and two sisters are preparing to have their annual summer party. The problem is that none of the characters feel real, there are two many side characters that don’t add anything to the plot or even any interest in general, and it just feels like a lot of nothing. Like there is so much build up and then it’s just, “OK cool, who cares.” That’s how I felt, anyway.

Oh, and the dialogue was ROUGH. If I’m reading a book and I can’t hear the conversation in my head, then you’re not a good writer. It just felt so unnatural to me, like, did young adults really talk that way in the early 80s?

And then it occurred to me that the reason I liked the other two books was that I listened to them on audio. Daisy Jones had a full cast (some of the narratives were pretty big names too, like Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt (even though I forgot he existed lol), and Judy Greer (love her and her voice). So those two books felt REALLY SPECIAL. Both were in interview format too (moreso Daisy Jones) and it was fast-paced and the characters were actually interesting.

I won’t recommend this one to anyone, but try the other two maybe! In Malibu Rising, everyone could have died at the end and I wouldn’t have shed a tear and I usually cry at everything, so.

5. Heartstopper, Vol. 3 – Alice Oseman

Heartstopper: Volume Three (Heartstopper, #3)

THIS SERIES IS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL. FIVE STARS. I have nothing more to add other than I can’t wait to read Vol. 4!

6. Jar of Hearts – Jennifer Hillier

Jar of Hearts

This thriller was middle-of-the-road for me. It’s about a woman who knew that her boyfriend-at-the-time murdered her best friend 14 years ago, when they were in high school. (Maybe 16 years ago?) They both end up going to jail and oh yeah it also turns out that the boyfriend was a serial killer, so that’s cool.

The book jumps back and forth between the time she’s in jail (hated those chapters, honestly; I just don’t like anything where the setting is a prison) and the time leading up to the murder of the friend so you don’t really know this whole time if she actually played a role in the murder or just the cover-up, why the friend was murdered, you know – thriller stuff.

It was OK, honestly! I didn’t hate it but I also didn’t scream at Henry to add it to his list, which is what I do after I finish something really good that I loved (unless it’s contemporary fiction because he usually doesn’t like those lol).

There were some parts during the climax that made me say, “Um wow OK you went there, Jennifer Hillier.” But overall I would give this the “airport book store” rating. As in, this would be a semi-solid pick if you were about to catch a flight but forgot to bring a book/pack your Kindle and needed something in a pinch. It’s entertaining enough to distract you for several hours, but it’s not really something I would confidently recommend to any of my friends…? Am I getting worse at reviewing books??

Oh shit, gotta go! One of my pet squirrels is at the window!!!!

Oct 012021
 

Non-apologies in advance for this forthcoming photo dump. I have reached a point in my life over the last several years where I am in a constant state of panic about RUNNING OUT OF TIME. Chooch is 15! In 10th grade! We are lucky that he still even wants to go places with us even when most of the time he acts like he’s strapped to a dentist’s chair when we DARE speak to him in public. I know that life will go on for us once he’s off to college but I really want to milk all of the family fun I can get out of these KELLY/ROBBINS udders while there’s still time. So I have been very adamant about taking tons of pictures at these parks, having Henry take pictures of Chooch and me riding barf-inducing contraptions, forcing Henry to ride the milder flatrides that he would usually skip.

I just want TO HAVE ALL OF THE FUN WITH THESE PEOPLE even though they are the two people who piss me off more than anyone else in the world. I love taking these little trips with them and I hope that Chooch grows up and does the same stuff with his future family! We may bicker like brats but at the end of the day, we really do have so much fun together. Ew, there. I said it. Gag me.

Of course we only lasted twenty minutes into the day before one of us got yelled at for running.

This time Chooch was the runner caught red-footed, and it was on the platform for Cornball Express (best name for a coaster, honestly) when he was jogging to the back row after handing Henry his phone. Ride attendant was like, “Please don’t run or you’ll fall on your face” or something like that, in a super smug “overcompensating for my braces” tone. Chooch was like, “Excuse me?” because he was barely even jogging and was like, “Surely this bitch isn’t talking to me.” So the dude repeated it in the same bored cadence and I really didn’t like him. We saw him later when we came back for a re-ride and he was TOTALLY trying to be all suave while checking the seatbelts for these two teen girls in the back row and then when they exited the ride, he said, “Have a good one, guys,” in this slick rick way and I had second-hand embarrassment hardcore.

Look at the corn on the sides of this coaster! Which, by the way, is one of the most fun woodies I have ever ridden. That thing is a maniacal! If you’re even a moderate woodie enthusiast, Indiana Beach is worth the visit. Both of their wooden coasters are entwined with each other – it’s just a jumble of tracks!

 

How did Chooch get so lucky to end up with us dorks as parents. He was THRILLED AS ALWAYS to take pictures of us.

OMG I had to take a picture here!

“Do you feel better now?” he asked sardonically, after I giggle-snapped a picture.

“YES, ACTUALLY. YES, I DO,” I wheezed. It’s the little things, you guys, especially when they’re SERVICE RELATED and since we were in Indiana, where he lived while SERVICING, the weekend was chockful of chuckles.

Preparing for the day he eventually does have to cart our asses around.

That’s the track for Hurricane Hoosier!

Henry hates being chauffeured, lol. Professional Driver Things.

FRANKENSTEIN’S CASTLE IS MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS PARK!!! I wrote about it more extensively the last time we were there so I will save you from the extra words. But just know that this is the best haunted walk-through in an amusement park that I have experienced (and no, I never went in Castle Dracula in Wildwood because I was too scared when I was a kid and now it’s gone!).

This is a $3 or $3.50 (can’t remember) upcharge to the regular park admission but it honestly is worth it and also helps preserve the integrity of the structure. It also means that there probably won’t be a line! There wasn’t one for us when we went through BUT we did catch up with the family in front of us at one point because there is a room with trick doors that takes a bit to get through and even though we knew that, we were still like, “COME ON, ASSHOLES.” But then it turned out to be parents with a young boy (maybe 6 or 7) who had REALLY HAD IT WITH FRANK AND HIS CASTLE at this point because we kept hearing him crying and screaming several rooms ahead of us after that. They ended up being in line behind us for the antique cars afterward and witnessed their talk therapy session which lasted the entire twenty minutes we  were in line.

That kid probably had to wear diapers to bed that night.

It made me laugh though because I sometimes forget how different Chooch was from other kids when he was younger. I mean, bro was watching Spirit Halloween walk-thru videos on YouTube every night before going to sleep when he was 2 and walking around moaning, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara” after watching Night of the Living Dead for the 8th time as a toddler.

He had a Lost Boys cake at his third birthday party, lol!

The best room in Casa d’Frank.

WE ALL MATCHED THE MUSIC EXPRESS. Also, there was a kid in front of us who started vaping and it went right into our faces so that was great.

Den of Lost Thieves is a really cute and quirky dark ride BUT adults have to ride alone or with a kid under a certain height, so all three of us had to ride separately which was sad and Henry tried to duck out of line, but I said, “NO,  YOU DIDN’T RIDE THIS THE LAST TIME EITHER” so he begrudgingly stayed in line and thank god or else I wouldn’t have been able to get this beautiful picture of him exiting the DEN, lol.

Also, the ride operator here was SO NICE and talked to me about my tattoos while I was sitting alone in the car ready to be sent into the darkness.

I love this ride because it has that old-timey musty stench attached to classic dark rides.

HASHTAG BLUE.

HERE WE ARE BEING SCRAMBLED.

The Hoosier Hurricane was…definitely a storm to be braved. That bitch was hauling! It wasn’t painfully rough, but it also wasn’t…..NOT painfully rough….? It was definitely forceful and I probably wouldn’t be able to marathon it but we did ride it twice. Chooch tapped out after the second spin on it though, lol. It’s B&M or GTFO for him.

OK Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain is insane. If you like learning about the history rides, I would 100% recommend that you watch this video by my FAVORITE COASTER YOUTUBER, El Toro Ryan:

Problematic is right. Since we had already experienced getting stuck on this ride the last time we were there, we weren’t surprised when we arrived that day and there was no line for this. The ride operator saw us looking confused, wondering if it was running, so she waved us on up. “The train is stuck inside so I’m just waiting for the guys to get here and give it a push,” she said matter-of-factly and if I had been a n00b at this, I MIGHT have turned around at that point. But this coaster is notorious for stopping at the same part of the ride inside the cave and maintenance has to come and give it a push, lol.

Just…watch that video. I promise you that it’s interesting!

I took this accidentally when handing Henry my phone but kept it because Shadow Erin is way better looking that Living Flesh Erin! Also because I’m high-key with my Vans. #VelcroTeam

I can’t believe I didn’t take pictures of the two new credits Chooch obtained, but one was Tigg’r which is a Schwartzkopf death threat, I swear to god. I really thought our little car was going to tip right off the track. I’m pretty sure I rode this alone the last time we were there because while Chooch was tall enough for the other coasters, I think he didn’t meet the height requirements for this one? Dot dot dot?

The second credit he (and I!!) got was for Steel Hawg, which wasn’t running during our prior visit. It was looking like we were going to be 0 for 2 with this bitch until later in the afternoon when I spotted it testing while we were on the SHAFER QUEEN boat. Of course we ran right over to it immediately upon docking, where a small group had already congregated. We waited a good thirty minutes before a security guard came over and said that they were currently looking for ride operators, but it was “tricky” because they have to be of a certain age so I guess they were trying to shuffle staff around. We eventually left the line, but acted like fucking strung-out coaster junkies every time we saw a ride operator walking in that general direction.

It wasn’t until about 2 hours later, about an hour before the park was scheduled to close, that Henry saw a train on the lift hill WITH PEOPLE IN IT. We fucking ran, NO RUNNING rules be damned. We needed this elusive cred! Henry is an idiot and opted to sit this one out, which I thought was really stupid. Chooch and I entertained ourselves in the (short) line by trying to guess who manufactured Steel Hawg based on the track.

I said it was either Premier or S&S, and he said Gerstlauer. In the end, I went with Premier as my final answer, and we were BOTH WRONG because it ended up being S&S so I should have fucking went with my gut because that layout was so goddamn strange, just like Steel Curtain, another S&S. Of course Chooch tried to argue that he was the one who threw S&S into the mix at first so we had a Big Fight about that.

But that little coaster was sick! I’ve definitely never been on anything like it, even though I though I knew what it was going to be like. But, nope. This jungle of steel is nuts!

Steel Hawg – Indiana Beach

Photo courtesy of Indiana Beach’s website.

Ugh, arcade time.

Ugh, annoying arcade boy.

OH SHIT, this ride!! It was nuts. I thought it was going to be like the Spider or Monster or whatever those rides are called, but this thing….did some unexpected shit. It was really fun the first time, so later on I suggested that we ride it again, but, well, maybe once was enough.

Trying to keep my eyeballs from popping out.

Trying not to puke.

Henry would rather hold pink teddy bears than go on flat rides.

Anyway, that about does it for our day at Indiana Beach. Do not write this place off, people. The staff is great. The rides are quirky and unusual. The setting is SO PRETTY AND LAKE-Y.  I think this was the 18th park we visited this summer (!) and definitely one of the most unique.

Sep 292021
 

Please tell me, how is a bitch supposed to get a single thing done when she’s maniacally dancing to this song on repeat.

Asking for a bitch.

UPDATING THIS TO ADD HIS COMEBACK STAGE PERFORMANCE ‼️‼️‼️

Sep 282021
 

Oh ho ho, if you thought the Indiana Beach posts were all dried up, you were wrong because I’m back with another and it’s nice and MOIST.  That doesn’t even make sense. I just wanted to type “moist” since it’s so triggering.

A few years ago, Chooch learned about the game of Fascination at Knoebels Amusement Park and has been, OK I’m going for it, FASCINATED by it ever since. If you’ve never had the odd experience of playing Fascination, or spectating Fascinators in action, it’s like a cross between Bingo and skeeball. I hear that Fascination parlors are very rare these days, but we have been to FIVE places this year alone that have a parlor: Knoebels, Morey’s Piers (there is a super cool antique arcade hidden in the back of a regular, modern arcade), Sylvan Beach (their parlor was closed though), Indiana Beach, and we didn’t know it at the time we were there but Six Flags Darien Lake also has one. Super random.

So far, Knoebels has the best Fascination parlor. Indiana Beach’s was nice because it was air-conditioned, but it was run by two teen guys who were also playing double-duty behind the prize counter, so the games weren’t being run as efficiently AND no one was on the horn doing play-by-plays and making everyone nervous by spotlighting the table number in the lead. But! Props to those kids were taking it seriously and hustling as best as they could.

Obligatory FAMILY FASCINATION RELFLECTION SELFIE but my phone covered most of my face. PROBS FOR THE BEST.

I really appreciated this relic of the HEAVY PUBLIC SMOKING past. Henry had to show me how it worked and it aroused a long-slumbering slideshow of SMOKING IN RESTAURANTS AND SHOPPING MALLS AND OLIVE GREEN WOOD-PANELED STATION WAGONS AND CIGARETTE MACHINES IN LAUDROMATS.

Whew, time-travel makes me tired.

Just like Fascination makes these two guys tired, I guess. (Side note: Henry said he’s never seen someone yawn for such an extended period of time and now I’m sad that I missed it. Maybe if we had locked eyes, he could have passed a demon onto me. DAMMIT.)

I wonder if Chooch’s next spreadsheet will be one to keep track of all the Fascination parlors he visits in his lifetime.  The only ones left in the US that he hasn’t played are:

  • Looff’s Lite-A-Line in Long Beach, CA
  • Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio
  • Funland in Seaside, Oregon

Plus the ones at Sylvan Beach and Darien Lake. Looks like this will be a pretty small spreadsheet, lol.

I wonder if Henry played Fascination with his SERVICE buddies.

He won a round and Chooch was so pissed, but I was happy because Henry’s virtual tickets got scanned onto Chooch’s Indiana Beach arcade card and I HAD MY EYE ON A RING IN THAT PRIZE CASE.

Actually, Chooch was the one who (GRUDGINGLY) cashed in his tickets on this ring (and later, a popsicle ring of my choosing!) and it was the most pathetic moment of my life, watching  my own flesh and blood be annoyed that he had to “waste” 35 tickets on a ring for his MOTHER when he could have used that on a Tootsie pop. Anyway, when I picked out the one I wanted, Yawner actually looked at Chooch and asked, “Is that OK?” like, excuse me but give a bitch her ring. Don’t ask the KID. Yes, it’s OK because I’m his mother and if he says no, I’m ripping that ticket card out of his hands and feeding it to the carp in Lake Shafer! NOW GIVE ME MY FUCKING RING.

Jesus Christ.

So, that’s Fascination. I’m not into it at all because it makes me nervous, but those two love it. I actually went outside and sat by myself on a bench the last time they ducked inside for a round. I felt sad, just sitting there watching families have fun on the bumper cars. It’s OK. Don’t cry for me, Indiana Beach.